I keep hearing from Libertarian ideologues who tell me they want to see the earth protected, but disaprove of using the government and legal system as a means of doing that. They usually advocate sticking to some other tactics, ranging from moral persuasion and setting a good example, to asassination, instead of resorting to laws and law enforcement to protect the environment.
There are many people who build their own airplanes at home and fly them for pleasure. The FAA has set rules about this. You can build your own airplane, so long as the plans you are using are of a model certified as airworthy by the FAA, but at certain fixed stages during the construction, it must be inspected by an FAA inspector. When it is finished, you must have it inspected by an FAA-certified mechanic before you can fly it. And of course, you must have a license to fly a plane.
I started taking flying lessons at the age of 15, so I tend to pay attention to anything I read or hear that concerns small aircraft. And in all the time since, I have heard of only one case of someone building and flying airplanes illegally, without bothering to comply with the FAA regulations and without having a license. In fact, most home-builders are proud to have the FAA certify their work as good enough to fly and the certification is as eagerly sought after for that seal of approval and feeling of satisfaction as for the right to actually fly the aircraft.
The same goes for many private pilots who have no interest in working as pilots, but go on after getting a private pilots' license to add more ratings and get a commercial license because of the pride it brings them and the higher level of confidence they feel from having been able to qualify for it.
For some reason, the cloudbusting field is different. People who learn about cloudbusting, most often nowadays from the internet, frequently just build themselves a cloudbuster without ever even trying to contact anyone with expertise in the field to learn anything more about it than the sparse information, usually mostly misinformation, they can find on-line.
Then, with their frequently sub-standard equipment, often poorly designed and poorly constructed, they proceed to try it out, again without bothering to try to learn anything except the inadequate and usually wrong information on-line about how to use it. If any unlicensed person built and proceeded to fly an uninspected home-made aircraft with such a cavalier attutude, they would be commonly regarrded as reckless to the point of being suicidally insane.
And a cloudbuster is as hazardous to the health of the operator as an airplane can be, and the risk to uninvolved people on the ground is much greater. If your homebuilt aircraft crashes, chances are, only the pilot will be injured or killed, and at most, only a few people on the ground, but a mistake with a cloudbuster can kill hundreds, and impoverish thousands.
So, why do intending pilots and intending cloudbuster operators take such very different approaches to preparations for their sport? Why do we hear of so few cases of unlicensed pilots flying home-built aircraft, and so many of untrained operators using home made cloudbusters?
Why do most of the people who want to fly small airplanes as a hobby take pride in their ability to qualify for a pilots' license and are happy to see the FAA inspector come and take a look at their home-built aircraft to tell them if they are doing a good job, while most of the people who want to take up cloudbusting are strongly resistant to the idea of government regulation of cloudbusting and licensing of operators in the field?
Part of this tendency may be due to the unfortunate history of the cloudbuster and its' undeserved image as somehow connected with unorthodoxy, rebelliousness, and suspicion of government authority. Perhaps if the cloudbuster had been invented by some big university lab, patented and immediately put to widespread commercial use for a high price, and accepted at once by the scientific community, the anarchists and anti-government ideologists would never have bothered with it.
They do not seem to spend much time building their own illegal TV transmiters and broadcasting illegally. They seldom construct their own airplanes and fly them without FAA certification. But for some reason, the very people who distrust government the most seem to also be the people most often attracted to cloudbusting, and by their frequent refusal to conduct themselves according to ordinary standards of decent and responsible behavior in the field, make government regulation of cloudbusting more urgently needed than it would be otherwise.
There are plenty of grounds for distrusting the courts and the legislative process, but at this time in history there is no effective substitute. Either we shall have laws to protect the environment, and strict enforcement of those laws, or the environment shall not be protected.
This fact is universally recognized in the environmental movement, but somehow, when it comes to the people who have an interest in cloudbusting, it frequently seems to be disparaged in favor of libertarian and anarchist ideology. Or, rather, people with such ideologies, a relatively small proportion of the total population, seem dispropotionately attracted to cloudbusting.
In working on plans to address the dangers to the environment from cloudbuster proliferation, we have been concentrating on plans for lobbying for more and stronger laws to hold cloudbuster operators to higher standards, and stricter enforcement of laws already on the books that could be used against cloudbuster operators who fail to meet those standatrds.
We have also discussed ways, such as Citizens' Arrest Committees to make legal Citizens' Arrests, by which those laws could legally be enforced by private individuals and groups in cases where the law enforcement authorities fail to realize the seriousness of the problem and fail to take action.
What we will NOT do is surrender the most powerful tool to protect the atmosphere, the power of the legal system to punish violators, on the altar of libertarian anti-government ideology.
Those ideologues who try to tell us "it is wrong to resort to the state and its' courts" as one correspondent put it, will be disapointed in our response. Urging us to use some other, less effective, methods instead of "the state and its' courts" is nothing but a form of attack on the atmosphere since if we were ever so misguided as to yield to this argument, we would have no chance of preventing the enormous damage cloudbusters can do to the life support systems of the earth.
We need every tool in the toolbox, and the legal system, flawed and often unjust as it is, is one of the most important tools we have. Like every other group working to preserve and protect this planet, we intend to make full use of it.